Phandroid » Google TV Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Wed, 23 Apr 2014 23:53:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Samsung HomeSync set-top box available for $99 at Best Buy [DEAL] Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:51:47 +0000 homesync

Another hot deal is on tap for you folks this morning, with Best Buy putting Samsung’s HomeSync set-top box on sale for $99. That’s a massive price drop from the typical $299.99 it’s offered for. HomeSync hooks up with your Galaxy smartphone or tablet so you can easily upload your photos and video to its 1TB of on-board storage (which you then play back on your TV for the whole family to enjoy).

Many were already of the opinion that HomeSync was overpriced, even if it did come with a whopper of a hard drive. After all, it is just a big box with a simplified TouchWiz interface that allows you to playback photos, video and music.

Unfortunately for Samsung, it’s tough to sell a $300 box when many people have no problem taking to the cloud or using streaming services to get their content over devices like the $35 Chromecast or the $99 Amazon Fire TV (and it also doesn’t help that it doesn’t work with anything but their own devices). Be sure to find it at Best Buy here if you think you can find some use for it.

[via SlickDeals]

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Amazon Fire TV gaming controller backordered until May 11th Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:44:38 +0000 20140403_122930WM

Looking to buy an Amazon Fire TV with the partial purpose of playing games soon? Unfortunately you won’t be able to play games that require the gaming controller for quite some time, as the company has placed it on backorder until May 11th.

It’s tough to say whether this means gaming on the Fire TV is extremely popular or if Amazon had a shortage to begin with. It’d be great news if the former scenario were true, as that would indicate Amazon’s gaming initiative has a good chance of taking off.

Fortunately, not all of Amazon’s games will require the gaming controller. Some can be played using the remote controller that ships with the Fire TV by default, so don’t be afraid to buy one now and get your gaming controller later. Note that you can also order your controller right now, though it won’t ship until May 11th (and you won’t be charged until that happens). Read our first impressions of Amazon Fire TV right here, and jump over to Amazon if you decide to purchase one.


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Google’s upcoming Android TV leaks, plans to be your entertainment hub Sat, 05 Apr 2014 20:09:59 +0000 Android TV

Shortly after Chromecast’s launch last July, Sundar Pichai in an interview with AllThingsD talking about Chromecast stated that something like Google TV was more of a high end system for applications and gaming, while Chromecast was on the low end for streaming. Over the past year, Google TV set top boxes have seen very little on the update front while Android TV or Nexus TV reports continued to churn at the rumor mill. Today, The Verge has obtained exclusive evidence that Android TV is real and that Google plans to make Android TV your go to entertainment hub.

Android TV aims to pick up where Google TV failed, by making the living room experience “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast”. Google wants the Android TV UI to be something more than a modified smartphone user interface and a separate computing platform, aligning with other set top boxes such as Roku, Apple TV, or even the newly announced Fire TV from Amazon. The Android TV UI will consist of scrolling cards that represent content for TV shows, movies, music, apps, and games. You’ll interact with your Android TV by using a four way directional pad on your remote control, an optional game controller, or voice input.

Android TV Apps

Google plans to stand out from other manufacturers by putting “the Google” into Android TV. Instead of always having to browse through content, trying to find something to watch, play, or listen to, Google’s entertainment hub will proactively recommend things for you to do right on the home screen. This almost sounds similar to the Listen Now feature of Google Play Music, but for more than just music. Google also plans to harness their cloud syncing capabilities, allowing you to resume content you started watching on your smartphone or tablet. Google wants living room goers to never be more than 3 clicks or gestures away from getting exactly what they want.

Android TV Movies

As for apps, according to The Verge and the images above, we see that Play Movies, Play Music, YouTube, Hangouts, are available. We also see that big hitters such as Songza, Pandora, Hulu, Vevo, and Netflix are in the pipeline as well. Google is encouraging developers to optimize their applications for a consistent living room experience, focusing on simplicity.

What’s this mean for Chromecast? Seeing as the $35 dongle just launched in other parts of the world, it seems Chromecast has a niche of it’s own to fill as originally stated by Sundar last summer. It is a little odd that Google would want developers to focus on yet another platform, but it’s still way too early to tell as we have very little information on this subject.

We’ll be keeping an eye out over the next few months leading up to Google IO in June. Chances are we’ll hear a lot more about Android TV and the fate of Chromecast then.

Source: The Verge

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Pick up the ASUS Cube for only $30 (after $20 rebate) [CRAZY DEALS] Fri, 04 Apr 2014 20:53:17 +0000 ASUS Cube side angle

For those looking to add a little smarts to their television experience can now find the ASUS Cube (version 2) on Groupon for only $50. For those unaware, that’s about half-off. But the 50% discount is only half the story — as tipped by the folks at Fatwallet you can receive an additional $20 off via manufacturer rebate direct from ASUS. When all is said and done, that brings the Google TV equipped device down to Chromecast-like pricing at $30. Yikes!

ASUS Cube ports and remote

Groupon limits purchases to only 3 per person, and is only available for the next 11 days, or while supplies last. Also something to keep in mind, the ASUS’ rebate promotion ends on April 30th, so make sure you don’t waste any time sending it in. The coolest part? The ASUS Cube features HDMI passthrough, meaning you don’t have to switch inputs when switching from live television, to Netflix, Crunchyroll or web browsing. The Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV can’t beat that. Full details can be found in the links below, and if you’re still on the fence, don’t forget to check out our ASUS Cube review here.

[ASUS Cube on Groupon | ASUS rebate form]

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Amazon Fire TV teardown features a tight device packing a big punch Fri, 04 Apr 2014 14:03:10 +0000 We’ve already gotten a little down and dirty with the Amazon Fire TV, but we haven’t been able to get quite as deep as the guys at iFixIt have. You know what that means — teardown time! No way to spend a Friday like looking at the disgusting guts of a beautiful piece of tech.

amazon fire tv teardown

We noted in our initial impressions that the Fire TV was small, yet quite heavy. It had to be, of course, considering Amazon packed it with some beefy internals compared to the competition. Revealed beneath the chassis of the set-top box, remote and gaming controller is a result of seemingly beautiful and expert engineering.



Everything is nice and neat, though that won’t mean much to you. What you should be worrying about is how easy this thing is to repair in the event that it breaks. iFixIt rated it a 6 out of 10, where 10 is a device that’s quite easy to repair. While that’s above average, there are a couple of things to note:

  • The heat-sink is secured with enough glue to make a criminal charge stick
  • The outer-case is a bit unforgiving when taking it apart, but nothing that a bit of tender love and care can’t handle
  • There’s little modularity in the way the components are put together, so if something breaks you’re most likely going to have to replace the entire motherboard.

All of that is to say that it’s probably worth picking up an insurance plan for Amazon if you’re going to grab one, because if anything ever happens to the unit it probably wouldn’t be worth replacing it yourself. Hopefully you’ll never have to cross that bridge.

[via iFixIt]

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Amazon Fire TV vs. Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast [Chart] Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:50:45 +0000 FireTV chart

click to enlarge

A new entry into the crowded set-top box market has just been announced, and it’s from one of the biggest internet companies on the face of the Earth. Amazon has just shown off their new Fire TV box in an attempt to take over the living room. The Fire TV is based on Android and HTML, so it’s apparently pretty easy to get existing apps on the box. Of course, whenever a new device is announced we have to compare it to the competition.

The Fire TV matches up nicely with many of the top existing set-top boxes. At $99 it falls right in line with the Roku 3 and Apple TV, but of course it can’t compete with the $35 Chromecast. That’s because the Fire TV can do much more than Google’s affordable dongle, and you don’t need your phone to operate it. While the Fire TV may line up in price with the Roku and Apple TV, it has better specs than both.

Specs, man


The Fire TV is powered by a quad-core processor and 2GB of memory. The Roku 3 is slightly behind with a dual-core processor and 512MB of memory, while the Apple TV and Chromecast have single-sore processors with 512MB of memory. You should have no problem loading apps and navigating the UI smoothly and quickly on the Fire TV.

What about the apps?

amazon fire tv

The big determining feature for many people when deciding on a set-top box is apps. All four of the devices listed above have plenty of app support, but some have more than others. The Fire TV and Roku 3 both have 10 out of 11 popular streaming services. The Apple TV has 9, and the Chromecast has 7. Games is another area of apps. If you’re interested in those your only option is Fire TV or Roku 3. The Fire TV, however, has an optional dedicated gaming controller.

Who wins?

As of this moment it looks like the Fire TV and Roku 3 are the best options for streaming media set-top boxes. Amazon is a much larger company who will most likely make deals to get even more content on their device. When you combine the Fire TV with Amazon’s Fire tablets this is a very compelling device in a loaded ecosystem. For some the Chromecast will be all they need, but if you’re serious about cutting the cord the Fire TV is a great choice.

Buy the Amazon Fire TV right now for $99. Talk about the Amazon Fire TV at!

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Google TV not dead after all, Search and Voice Search updated Thu, 30 Jan 2014 01:37:28 +0000 LG-Google-TV-2013-girl-2

Google TV might not be the most popular Android child inside the Google family, but that doesn’t mean that it’s been completely forgotten about. Two essential apps to the Google TV brand have been updated. For those of you that use your remote control or Android device to access Voice Search will be happy to know that Voice Search for Google TV received a few minor updates today. And, if you’re in the habit of searching Google’s knowledge base from the comfort of your couch, your go to app, Search, has been updated a well.

Voice Search for Google TV: What’s New

- Match app names more aggressively
- Supports catchup TV content search provider

Google Play

Search for Google TV: What’s New

- Better handling of diacritic characters.
- Display date/time badge when no thumbnail is available.
- Ensure focus is correct when using a pointer device.

Google Play

Now, if we could only get Google to hold onto their Google IO 2013 promise to update current Google TV devices to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, we’d be set.


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“Nexus TV” set top box rumors return, point to first half of 2014 Sat, 07 Dec 2013 18:31:29 +0000 This image has no alt text


It’s safe to say that Google’s conquest of taking over your living room hasn’t been all that successful. For all the promise it showed on paper, the Google TV platform never really took off for multiple reasons, such as often the cost of the device in comparison with other competitors, like the Roku, the ecosystem and the interface. So when the Chromecast was released and sold like hotcakes, many wondered if this was the end of the Google TV platform.

However, Google always said that it wasn’t, and rumors are once again swirling of a “Nexus TV” set top box that would release in the first half of 2014. The talk earlier this year was that Andy Rubin showed off a prototype at CES, with rumored features including a three-dimensional motion sensor, like a Kinect, with a heavy focus on simplicity in using the device, possibly with your phone. Personally, I’d put a bet on an “always listening” mode, too. Google’s done a great job with it in a limited way on the Google Experience Launcher on the Nexus 5, and in particular Motorola’s implementation of it on the Moto X. Honestly, the way I see it, the best interface on a TV would be voice.

We’re not quite sure about the content aspect of it, though I expect all the major online services that signed up for the Chromecast would be happy to join. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the set-top box also acts as a Chromecast receiver, allowing you to push content from your phone to the TV in the same manner as with the dongle. There should also be a few apps and games.

[The Verge]

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Report: Google is killing off Google TV, will rebrand it Android TV Fri, 11 Oct 2013 01:58:45 +0000 LG-Google-TV-2013-girl-sitting

The signs were all there, and now after only 3 years since Google first debuted the Google TV platform, they’re finally ready to put it out to pasture. Well, the branding anyway. A report out of GigaOM suggests that Google will soon retire the Google TV branding in favor of something a little more familiar: Android TV.

Evidence for Android TV mounts

Although Google declined to comment, the new name transition was further confirmed by a consumer electronics manufacturer who produces Google TV devices. Don’t forget that back when Sony announced their all new Bravia TV HDMI stick, there was curiously no mention of Google TV in the press release. Instead, Sony’s marketing manager simply stated that the Bravia TV stick brought “Google services” into the living room.

This was echoed by LG who recently announced a handful of new devices, saying only that they ran Android and — you guessed it — featured “Google services for TV”. The nail in the coffin could be a Google TV developer conference held in Korea dubbed “Android TV Developer Day”. After the event, former Google TV developers soon began updating their online profiles to “Android TV”.

A more powerful brand name

Nestle KitKat Android wrappers

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The struggling Android platform has never fared very well in the television space, with only a few big name manufacturers ever jumping on board the GTV train. With Android 4.4 KitKat soon to become a household name (just check the candy aisle of your grocer), it only makes sense that Google is once again trying to better align the fragmented Google TV platform with “regular” Android. This was an initiative Google first took when they announced Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (one version to rule them all) but we all saw how that turned out.

Google TV’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update was announced back in May, and aside from giving Android developers access to newer APIs, the update was also said to bring Chromecast functionality to ARM-based devices. Since then we haven’t seen any devices actually make the jump, but LG is promising to update their devices by the end of this month, with more OEMs to follow. If Google is really planning to unify their products and renew their efforts with their television platform, blanketing everything under the same Android name is a great start. Guess Google Android TV still has some fight left in it.

[via GTVSource]

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Samsung announces HomeSync Android media box launches in the US October 6th for $300 Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:10:55 +0000 Remember that Android-based media box Samsung introduced earlier this year? It’s the Samsung HomeSync, and it’s a set-top box that will go in your living room, and will help you make the most of your content by enabling a smart TV experience for any panel with an HDMI port. The company had us in the dark in regards to a release date for quite some time, but they have finally announced availability and pricing details.

We should be seeing the HomeSync begin to populate retail channels on October 6th, and it’ll cost you just $300 to walk away with one. “HomeSync is a powerful platform that we envision to be the center of a household’s connected life,”said a Samsung vice president in a press release.

What it does

The user interface powering HomeSync is quite similar to what you’d find on, say, a Galaxy Note 3 or a Galaxy Note 10.1. With 1TB of cloud storage that can be divvied up between 8 different accounts you’ll have a ton of room to store all your favorite content. The sync operation is a two-way street, giving you and your family members the ability to share content with each other seamlessly.

samsung homesync

You’ll also be able to access various online video and music services, and control playback of said services using a compatible Galaxy smartphone. Here’s the full list of compatible Samsung devices:

And any other device that uses Samsung Link will also be compatible out of the box. Here’s a full look at all the different features you’ll be getting should you decide to part ways with $300 to take a HomeSync home:

- Perfect Companion for Your Galaxy Device: HomeSync is the ideal companion for the Galaxy S® 4 or Galaxy Note® 3. It is also compatible with other devices within the Samsung ecosystem, including the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 8.0, Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition, Galaxy Camera™, and other devices that use Samsung Link™.

- Storage Solution: HomeSync is a storage solution with an expansive 1TB drive that offers both shared and private storage options for an entire household’s core mobile content, such as photo albums, videos, and music libraries, in one secure location.

- Real-Time Sharing: Provides access for up to eight separate accounts and allows each user the option to quickly sync and share mobile content in real time, or select specific content to share. Register up to six devices per account so you can access your personal library no matter where you are, no matter what device you’re using.

- Access Anywhere: HomeSync provides secure access to your files, photos, music and home videos no matter where you are.

- Intuitive Control: Seamlessly control your content on TV with your mobile device – control what’s on screen using your Galaxy smartphone as a remote mouse and use your phone’s keyboard for easy searching, or mirror the HomeSync screen directly on your Galaxy device.

- Real Time Streaming: Stream content from a Galaxy device wirelessly to a TV – experience your created content, such as photos and videos, on the big screen then explore your favorite apps and play mobile games in a whole new way on your TV.

Developers and Content

There is support for wired or wireless keyboards and mice, and there will be a collection of apps (including YouTube) and games you can download and essentially turn any dumb TV into a smart one. Samsung’s press release mentioned developers can make their apps compatible with HomeSync in the Google Play Store with as little as one line of code. More details can be had here if you want to make sure your application can be downloaded on HomeSync.


To top all of that off, Samsung is also ponying up $50 in Samsung Media Hub credits to anyone who buys one, giving you a bit of spending money to buy music, TV shows, movies and more through Samsung’s own digital storefront. Not bad at all. We’re not sure which retail outlets to expect this to show up at, but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out and will bring that info to you as soon as we get it.

A major blow to Google TV?

That Samsung has decided to create its own set-top box experience built on top of Android is a bit troubling for the future of Google TV. It’s already stagnant in terms of available devices, developer support and — increasingly — new software features. Our friends over at would tell you that much.

A major player like Samsung could have helped things along tremendously, but the South Korean company continues to show that they want to create their own ecosystem. They are willing to piggyback the core of Android to create said ecosystem instead of adopting an entire platform based on the same foundation.

Such an act could have undoubedly helped move the Google TV ecosystem along, but alas we’ll have to wait for another knight in shining armor to save a platform that just isn’t getting nearly as much love as it deserves.

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LG’s “G TV” trademark hints at upcoming Google TV device Wed, 21 Aug 2013 23:53:08 +0000 google-tv-thumb

While Google TV may have had some trouble finding mainstream success, it seems LG isn’t ready to quit the platform just yet. A renewed commitment to Google’s television OS might show its face this year as the recently trademarked “LG G TV”.

Announced during CES 2013, it was only earlier this year we saw LG’s 3rd generation Google TV equipped televisions hit the market. While it’d be easy to assume this is nothing more than a 4th generation version of LG’s television sets, we’re still too early in the year and CES is still a ways off. Instead — and this is still speculation at this point — we’re thinking LG might be entering the market with a new Google TV set top box or dongle, similar to the ASUS Cube or Chromecast. Also, trademarked was something being called LG Perfect Picture which sounds more like an app or special feature than anything else.

LG G TV trademark

Earlier today we heard about LG’s plans to go big in 2013, pushing out everything from smartwatches to tablets, and even flexible displays. If electronic global domination is in LG’s plans for the future, Google TV could be a key piece of that strategy. Remember, it was back in May that Google CEO Larry Page paid a visit to LG in their hometown of Seoul, South Korea. It was there they were said to have discussed a better partnership and the expansion of Google products — Google TV being one of them.

[via GTVSource]

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Google confirms Chromecast support is coming to Google TV Thu, 25 Jul 2013 16:10:14 +0000 google-tv-thumb

Google has declared that Google TV is not dead, and it did that with some great news for Chromecast fans. Googler Warren Rehman has confirmed that Chromecast support will be coming to the Google TV platform sometime soon. The engineer didn’t give many more details than that — such as when and how support will be arriving — but he did confirm it.

That post was piggy-backed on a post from the Google TV Developers Google+ account, where it mentioned Google is still working to bring many new hardware and content partners over to the platform. The company also mentioned that it would continue to bring many new, exciting facets of the Chrome and Android experience to keep Google TV fresh.

We’re not yet sure if this will be enabled via a software update or if it will require new hardware, but we’ve sent a line over to Google to find out. Our early guess is that it will only take a simple software upgrade to bring this functionality over, as most Google TV devices already have the WiFi and Bluetooth radios necessary to make Chromecast tick.

Regardless, Google says Chromecast and Google TV will definitely co-exist, and that the experiences will complement each other rather than one cancelling the other out.

[via Google+]

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Can a cable-like streaming TV service save Google TV? Wed, 17 Jul 2013 18:25:35 +0000 It’s no secret that Google hasn’t had the best of times getting its Google TV platform off the ground. The Android-based set-top box platform has been used in many different products from the likes of Sony, LG, Vizio, Logitech and more, but some have exited the arena (Logitech) while others don’t seem to be having much success with it.

What’s wrong with Google TV?

The platform itself has been quite stagnant since launch. Google has introduced new features over time, but it is still struggling to deliver the sort of content that would get users excited. Personally, I would have loved to be able to replace my cable TV service with the Google TV we thought we were getting ahead of its launch (the one where we thought Google had tons of content providers lined up).


Instead, the platform launched as a glorified launchpad for TV apps. Google was mostly shunned by big studios, and things started drying up ever since. Google has been quiet on the issue for a long time, and a side from a quick update here and a device launch there, one might not ever know the platform exists if they weren’t actively following the smart TV scene.

Can Google TV be saved?

I was interested to hear that Google might finally be gearing up to bring us the service that we’ve all been waiting for. Sources close to the matter revealed to Wall Street Journal that the Mountain View, CA company has been in talks with media companies about licensing content for use with an internet TV service, one that would mirror the channel-surfing model traditional television provides, except it’d all be coming through the online pipeline.

It isn’t hard to imagine Google has an easier time getting the ear of major content providers now that they’ve gotten their feet wet in several areas of the TV space. Google TV was a (rocky) start, and Google Fiber has made them a legit provider of cable television services (albeit for a very limited amount of people right now).


With an internet-based TV subscription service, Google could finally give the platform the legs it needs to make it an easier sell to consumers. Apps and integration with existing set-top boxes isn’t enough for many to hop on board — some are looking for a full-fledged replacement.

What a new “Google TV” could be like

If true, I wholly expect Google to inject the service into its Google TV platform. It might not even require a big overhaul — they could simply provide an app in the Google Play Store and retroactively deliver access to dozens (or even hundreds) of channels. I could see them offering it in a few different ways:

  • A la carte, where you pay a low rate and get only the channels you need and want. I could easily see them allowing us to pay $3 per month for each standard channel (like Cartoon Network or USA Network) and $6 for a premium channel (Like HBO or Showtime), mixing and matching so people can get cheaper access to television without paying for all the fluff they don’t watch.
  • Another way would be to offer it all for a low flat rate. Perhaps Google could borrow the traditional cable TV model of giving you a basic set of channels for, say, $20 per month, and allowing you to add more as you want or need them.

With “Google pricing” (let’s face it: we expect everything of theirs to be free or ultra affordable by now) I could see the company offering a compelling service to those who don’t care to pay upwards of $70 to $80 per month for cable TV service.

Who it’d be perfect for

It would certainly be ideal for folks who are stuck in areas where one company has a major monopoly over any other, with no competition to help drive costs down. I’d ditch cable in a heartbeat, and stick to a nice cocktail of Google TV, Netflix, Hulu and more to help fill in gaps that a full-fledged cable TV service would leave behind.


It wouldn’t be perfect, but the amount of money I could save each month would totally be worth giving up the ease and worry-free access to entertainment cable TV currently provides.

It’s funny, when I was going through a bill audit a while ago I thought to myself — what don’t I use that I’m actively paying for? Cable TV was at the top of my list. In fact, I’d probably never use my cable TV service if it weren’t for Monday and Thursday Night Football.

I keep cable TV service around for other folks in the house who aren’t as disconnected from cable as I currently am, but in a situation where my decisions would only affect myself, I’d have ditched cable long ago — with, or without Google TV. I say bring it on, Google, and try not to drop the ball this time around. I hope Google can get it done, and I’ll be tossing my wallet at their face the moment it (hopefully) arrives.

Would a Google TV service like this entice you to drop your premium cable package or would you rather stick with the robust offerings from current cable providers? Is price your biggest factor in such a decision or is it the ease of use and availability of content and channels? Let us know what would make you want to buy into Google TV by dropping a comment below.

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With the Microsoft XBOX One officially announced, are Google TV and OUYA in trouble? Tue, 21 May 2013 19:06:22 +0000 You can read more about the Xbox One over at our sister site for all the latest updates, news, rumors and information about Microsoft’s latest brain child. Don’t forget to visit to discuss all of today’s announcements with your gaming peers!

In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock the past 24 hours or so, Microsoft made a very major announcement today. It’s the XBOX One, a home entertainment console that’s supposed to change the way we consume our content like never before. With enhanced Kinect integration, great next-gen hardware, an impressive dashboard and deep TV integration, Microsoft is really raising the bar.


So now it’s all laid out onto the table. Microsoft has given folks who are interested in the likes of OUYA’s gaming console or the Google TV platform a very big reason to sit up and take notice. Microsoft has never been one to shy away from its desire to dominate the living room, with its current console — the Xbox 360 — getting new video and music features every day.

Xbox is no longer about gaming: it’s about entertainment as a whole. The Redmond company wants your dollars, your eyes, your ears and your attention more now than it ever has before. And to say there isn’t reason for any competitors to be sweating bullets would be just shy of a lie: millions of customers pay Microsoft $60 annually to be able to access these features through Xbox Live.

So should Google and its hardware partners be scared? Was there more to why El Goog decided not to make much noise about Google TV at its developers’ conference last week? Let’s explore.

Can OUYA survive?

While the big three kongs in console manufacturing — Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft — have no problem with market penetration based on sheer history, what the folks behind OUYA were able to pull off in grassroots fashion was nothing short of astounding. Here was a Tegra 3, Android-based gaming console that promised to be a formidable companion for anyone’s entertainment center.

Much to the chagrin of Kevin, who once argued that the OUYA was over-hyped and a bad investment, it has garnered huge interest to date, including a successful Kicktarter campaign that enticed over 63,000 people to pledge over $8.5 million in funds. The subsequent $15 million raised by the company earlier this year makes it feel all that much bigger. But what, exactly, was the driving force behind that huge following and backing?


Some might argue the price, first and foremost. It’s true: if you tell someone they can have a gaming console for just over $100, their eyes will probably widen and they’ll immediately scamper abut to find their checkbooks. Indeed, OUYA gives folks a chance to experience console-quality gaming without much of an initial down payment. But is an attractive price tag enough to stave off the eventual tidal waves that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will bring?

Don’t get me wrong — Tegra 3 is a fantastic SoC, and it can produce some lovely results with the right developers, but the hardware going inside these new consoles will allow developers to do things they might not have ever imagined just 5 years ago. It’s why even with a sizable fanbase and a ridiculous amount of interest, the OUYA hasn’t gained the interest of many big publishing entities.

That’s not to say there aren’t any significant names getting behind it — we’ve already heard of some OUYA-exclusive titles that are being worked on by industry veterans responsible for some of the top games out there — but tough luck trying to sell the likes of EA and Activision on the idea of developing for it. You needn’t look any further than the situation the Wii U is currently suffering in trying to attract third-party support for its uninspiring performance capabilities.

Gunslugs OUYA hands-on

EA, Activision and many others simply aren’t committed to the console, one that is very capable and introduces some of the most unique gameplay elements you can find in the industry. The motives might be a bit different from one company to the next (here’s looking at you, EA) but if you can’t sell a publisher on a fanbase of multiple millions for a console by the established name Nintendo has made for itself, it’s going to be even tougher to get them behind OUYA in any meaningful capacity.

Perhaps that won’t matter, because that’s probably not who OUYA is after anyway. OUYA has always been synonymous with being open and friendly for small-time developers and studios, which is a crowd that is largely independent. The games console will give budding developers a chance to get their titles onto a platform for heightened exposure among the crowd who doesn’t need to play a new AAA game every week. We just can’t help but to question whether that crowd is big enough to keep OUYA from being overshadowed by what the Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 are promising to bring to the table.

Google needs to respond, like, yesterday

Of course, Google’s interest doesn’t stop with OUYA. The Google TV platform has been slow to take off, and while the company has taken moderate strides to advance it as of late there hasn’t been much significant movement. We all assumed Google TV would have a bigger role at IO, with the company assuring developers that some news would be in tow.

That particular promise wasn’t broken — Google TV did, in fact, receive some attention — but it wasn’t what we expected. To be honest, I’m not sure what we were supposed to expect to begin with. Google has been getting by with a hodgepodge of partners committing to products, including the likes of LG with their Smart TVs, and ASUS with its latest set-top box (read the ASUS CUBE review). But as Logitech wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone, the Google TV market isn’t quite moving at a breakneck pace right now.


Google wants to be on anything and everything for one reason — to drive search. It’s the company’s number one money maker when you factor in ads, and it’s the one thing that the company has always gotten right. The market for smart televisions is vastly different, though.

Microsoft has shown a certain ability to woo content providers, getting them to agree to deliver all the engaging content they can through a gaming console. Whether it be through the many video and music apps currently available on the Xbox 360 or through Microsoft’s vast on-demand movie and TV show collection, the company just seems better geared toward this stuff. It’s almost a completely 180-degree turn from where Google is, with a lot of content providers still hesitant to get in bed with the internet company.

Google has made key strides within the past year, offering up a huge collection of music, movies, and TV shows through the Google Play Store, but there’s still a ton of ground that needs to be made up before it can catch up to the likes of Microsoft.

The Xbox One is already threatening Google’s very domain, with the ability to integrate live TV with the console’s other functions. This essentially becomes your set-top box, your gaming console, your smart TV, your music playing device, and your movie player in one package. You can use Kinect commands to effortlessly switch between TV and gaming, or you can even go with a side-by-side approach with the ability to pull up Skype or Internet Explorer alongside your content using Snap Mode.

xbox one guide

If Google was waiting to see what Microsoft or any other major players in the set-top box entertainment space might bring before dropping its own megaton, now is the time to show us something… anything. The notion that Google might have been holding back on Google TV to see what others might be bringing could be seen as a bit of a stretch, especially when the company’s biggest competitor in mobile — Apple — continues to take decent steps with the Apple TV platform.

It’s also not Google’s modus operandi: as the existence of Google Glass confirms, Google is the one company who isn’t afraid to take chances, and as we see with Android we certainly know they’re not incapable of innovating. With that, we hope Google isn’t just sitting idly by while its other nemeses are making a major play for living rooms of entertainment lovers everywhere.

Uphill Battle

To be quite honest, Microsoft showed a lot in their brief unveil to get me more excited for the Xbox One than consoles like OUYA or any Google TV products to date combined. I’m not just talking from a games standpoint, either — I’m talking about entertainment as a whole. Microsoft already won me over in all facets of entertainment with what the Xbox 360 currently provides, and the Xbox One makes the gap even more wide for anyone who is looking to compete in the living room.

Some have given Google the benefit of the doubt until now, rationalizing by saying there just isn’t a big market for this sort of stuff. I beg to differ, and I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that Microsoft is going to prove naysayers wrong with the advent of the Xbox One once it launches later this year.

Like Android, Google’s strategy of providing a manufacturer-agnostic platform is noble and it helps OEMs like the aforementioned ASUS and LG provide their own smart TV experiences, but as it stands the platform is being outclassed at every turn and Google can’t hold off on picking up the pace much longer. Are you feeling a bit envious of would-be Xbox One owners after seeing what Microsoft is doing to transform the living room?

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What I expect to see at Google I/O Sun, 05 May 2013 16:27:08 +0000 This image has no alt text

google-io-2013-logoWith just ten days left for Google I/O to kick off, I can hardly contain my excitement. This edition will be the first time I’ll be attending, and I will also be at the Google Developer Group Summit prior to the event.

So, what am I expecting to see at I/O this year?

Big news regarding Chrome and Android

When the agenda for I/O was announced, the change from the typical two keynotes to only one this time got a lot of attention. My belief is that this probably has to do with Chrome and Android coming closer together strategically. Typically, Day 1 keynotes have been about Android and Day 2 about Chrome, besides other announcements. Other signs have pointed towards a coming together of the two platforms, such as the Chrome-styled Android statue, following which we saw Sundar Pichai add the title of Senior Vice President of Android to his roles of Chrome and Google Apps.

It could simply have been scheduled so that Sundar’s two keynotes are on the same day. However, with a significant number of developer sessions that match a mobile web theme, I think we should be seeing some news regarding improved performance at least. Google Now on Chrome for desktops should make an appearance, too, and so should Babel.

Bluetooth Low Energy

There have been rumors in the last day or two that Bluetooth Low Energy support would be added to the next iteration of Android, with HTC supposedly having “leaked” the feature ahead of the release. HTC have come out and said that they are not hinting at anything unannounced, but Low Energy support makes a lot of sense since Google Glass connects to the user’s Android device over Bluetooth, and so do other connected peripherals such as smartwatches. Which reminds me, I’m hoping for a Google Watch, too.

Game Center for Android

Rumors surfaced in the middle of April that Google would be launching a Game Center-like service for Android, and separately we heard about a recent hire for a “Chief Game Designer at Google Play“. A number of sessions, particularly on Day 1, are on mobile gaming with one of them (that I believe was added only today, though I’m not certain) dedicated for multiplayer support. With Android forming the base for upcoming gaming devices such as OUYA and Nvidia’s Project Shield, Game Center seems a question of when and not if.


The Motorola X Phone is without doubt what everyone wants to see at I/O, and though the belief is that the device will only hit shelves in July or August. However, I’m still confident about seeing it next week. Nothing that I have mentioned so far has been a showstopper, and after the Google Glass antics of last year, sounds a little underwhelming. If the X Phone offers all the customization it is rumored to, that problem would be solved. We might not see them given away to attendees, though I cannot completely rule it out considering Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was given away in 2011 before the customer release.

The Nexus 7 should see a refresh with it’s screen now an eyesore in comparison to the other Google devices such as the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Chromebook Pixel. There should be some news from the Google TV side of things, too, but I’m not holding my breath. Ideally, I’d like to see a box with Miracast.

I will be sharing my experience from my trip half way across the planet as regularly as I can via posts on Phandroid, though I suggest circling me on Google+ and following me on Twitter.

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